When you buy a piece of Isabel Jewelry you are buying handmade quality with a lifetime guarantee. I realize that there are piles of cheap jewelry that I compete with every day but I know what I am producing is carefully and individually made…because I make each piece. Like all micro-businesses I have to compete with factory made products. Knowing this, I like to keep my jewelry small pieces of artwork.
Some companies use flashy marketing campaigns to push lower quality jewelry, it’s hard not to get convinced by beautifully produced commercials and print ads that their commercial jewelry is more valuable. People wind up paying for a company’s marketing rather than quality artistry. When my customers buy from me, they are paying for top-notch, handcrafted jewelry that I guarantee for life and I am proud of that.
I have been metalsmithing for 20 years now and I create hundreds of pieces of jewelry every year. I am very comfortable at my jewelry bench and love forming metal into tiny wearable art, my tools are extensions of my hands and I am happy when I am at work.
This Saturday, June 27, 2015, I will be having a 5-year anniversary party for my shop in Pinedale (you are invited!). I opened the doors five years ago and have been enjoying serving my community and travelers ever since. It’s a good life and I plan on continuing my work. I thank everyone that has ever bought a piece of jewelry from me, you mean the world to me.
Pictured at top: Wyoming jade & Sterling Silver pendants.
The Teton Range is the featured horizon line on this belt buckle. I made this for a customer who wanted a very special graduation present for her Wyoming son. It is all sterling silver with elk ivory highlights.
To get a nice an accurate mountain range line I printed out some photos of the teton range, chose my favorite and sized it to the ballpark size I needed for the buckle. I used this line as a guide to trace a good ridgeline onto silver sheet. Instead of making a straight bottom line I decided to make a curving line to mirror the feel of the winding Snake River that flows beneath the Grand Teton Range.
My customer had requested a rope-like border on the buckle so I twisted together two lengths of silver wire, shaped those into an oval and slightly hammered that flat. I soldered the mountains and border to another sheet of silver. Meanwhile I cut and polished two elk ivories that she had provided and built the settings for them.
Once I had soldered the mountains and border on the buckle I flipped it over and set that into warm “pitch” so that I could hammer the back and dome out the front. I think belt buckles in this style look nice if there is a slight dome to them.
Once that was finished I flipped the buckle over and added texture around the mountains and river so that the main part of the image would visually pop out. Then I sawed away the extra silver on the edges, soldered the ivory settings to the front and a hook and loop to the back, and set the stones into place.
In the last few weeks I have been working on some special wax carving projects. I usually fabricate most of my jewelry from sheet, wire and various metal stock but sometimes a project calls for unusual curves or shapes so I carve a wax model to be cast in silver or gold.
I just carved a setting for the pear shaped citrine pictured above. This stone is a large gem and I wanted to have some interesting cut-away areas to allow for light to pass through the setting and brighten the stone. Faceted stones need a “seat” to sit on inside of a setting, you can see that I carved out a step down for the stone to be able to sit evenly all around. I will be adding a bail to the top of the drop so that this can be worn as a pendant.
Another project I am working on is developing a fun line of stacking rings in various textures. I’m enjoying working with geometric and repeating patterns. I will be offering these in both silver and gold in a range of sizes.
And pictured above is a one-of-a-kind wax carving for a large flat stone. My customer desires a signet style ring and I will be adding Masonic symbols that he has chosen as well as carving words on the inside of the band.
Carving waxes taps into a free-form sculptural style. Fabrication with metal is also sculptural but more architectural in its approach, building blocks put together with connecting angles.
Wyoming is a great place to experience a true winter and the end of December through the beginning of January always proves to be a deep dark and extremely cold time. Last week we had a spell of 20 below zero weather. But already I can tell the days are just getting a wee bit longer; it’s been two weeks since the solstice.
After Christmas, I took the week off of work to enjoy the bottom of the year merging to the beginning of a new year. Usually my husband and I travel to visit family for the holidays but this year we stayed put and I was able to have some quality lying-on-the-couch time mixed with daily cross country skiing and plenty of festivities in between. There is a very large lake just outside of Pinedale, Fremont Lake, and we skied along its banks a few of those days. We witnessed it freezing over. At first there was ice gathering along the shore and a wind was keeping it chopped up but then, just a mere three days later, the entire lake had a sheet of ice covering the surface. Soon enough it’ll be thick enough to ski on but I’m not trying it yet.
I’ve returned to my shop and studio to dig into work once again and I hope to realize some of the many designs I have in my head and catch up on last year’s paperwork. It’s a nice time of year during this dead of winter, the short days make for longer star gazing and the cold weather makes for more coziness inside.
Fremont Lake, Pinedale, Wyoming, on the verge of freezing over, late December.
November is here and I’m starting to ramp up for the holiday season which means building up my inventory in the shop. I’ve been using some beautiful Wyoming sourced jade. In the center of the state there is a nephrite jade deposit and the colors range from an apple green to black with all shades of green in between. One of the unique specimans to Wyoming is the “snowflake” green which has little white crystals mixed into the green. The rock hounds find it in the center of the state, in the sagebrush desert between Lander and Casper; it is usually above ground so they walk all over with their eyes glued to the ground looking for the rocks and hoping for the big million dollar boulder. A lot of people are unaware that gemstone quality jade is found in Wyoming.
I bought some Wyoming jade from a local guy this past summer and have begun using it in my jewelry. And since jade is the toughest gemstone available, it makes for a great jewelry stone and can be worn with confidence in rings.
(This is my husband looking over the rough although we bought all cut stones. We hope to learn the art of lapidary someday.)
Some of the stones show a whole different color when they are held up to a light, for example the pendant below shows a mossy medium green when held up to a light and is a forest green when held against my hand.
The pendants above show the variety of greens found in Wyoming jade, from an apple green to a dark forest green and even a grey-green.
I am super excited to have a localy sourced gemstone available for everyone and will be offerening more designs as quickly as I can get them made and uploaded to the website.